Elegy and Psalm

He was ramshackle,
one of three thieves
bleeding out like a stuck pig.
To see it was to witness
an immodest poem,
no one knew exactly
what it meant but we all knew
how it made us feel –
bereft.
His last words are recorded.
There were others though,
not written down but entrusted
to our hands. We carried
them like a birthright
from that moment on.
He looked at me and said
Now nothing in this world
is plain, John. Nothing.
 
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Dale

Dale held
a tragic misconception of time,
believing
the turnings of clocks
and calendars
would eventually
heal all his wounds.
Then one
day Dale up and croaked,
still bleeding,
still too stubborn
to simply say I’m sorry
and possibly
hear Me too.
Dale failed
to mend his fences
in life (which is
the only way
to die with
some stock in peace).
Lord, what an idiot.
 
 
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Love Poem No.16

Meet me by that run in the river where the blueness
and the blackness roil over each other as a reminder
that nothing is certain and there is so much to learn.
I’ll bring my emptiness, you bring yours, and we’ll do
those things we know will soothe our coupled sadness.
We’ll start by picking bouquets of sweet dock and clover
to throw to no one but the morning wind. Then we’ll lay
down on the tufts of grass with our bare feet touching
taking turns reading from The Best Day the Worst Day.
We’ll cry for Jane and Donald which will cause us to cry
for ourselves and we’ll swear to God not to take each other
for granted when we go back far into our everyday lives.
We will though. We will take each other for granted, and
we’ll keep on taking and taking and taking until our hearts
once more beat bitter and empty as an abandoned drum.
Then I’ll ask you to meet me by the river’s edge, and we’ll
spawn back to this place which is like a galaxy in a universe
that keeps us mindful of how precious everything truly is.
 
02

 

 
 
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My Baptist Alchemy

We would usually sing
I’ll fly away, oh glory,
on Sunday nights when
the Baptist mood was
more laid back, dusky.
I must confess I never
once saw us as angels
as we sang that chorus
but rather as flocks of
birds thick enough to
choke sun and moon.
As a Baptist boy my
bright heaven was not
destination as much as
transmutation: man
weighed down by his
common sins free as a
bird at last to fly in skies
of rapturous vulgar gold.
Hallelujah, by and by.
 
flok-of-birds-v-formation
 
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My Father’s Coffee

My father’s coffee is instant.
Boil some water, add the crystals,
stir, and there you have it.
For years now I have been the
imperialist prodigal
returning to my father’s house with
my own wife and children, and coffee.
I imported Costa Rica Peaberry and
Major Dickason’s and once some
chickory blend dark as
the inside of a whale.
My father would yield each time,
making allowances for my
far countrying due to his great love.
I would leave and he would
find again his Folger’s, like water
returning to a low spot.
I may have broadened his horizon
but I never changed his mind.
But now, with him at his age
and me at mine, I would much
rather be his son than sophisticated.
So from now until then,
when in my father’s house
I will drink as my father drinks.
In his house there is instant coffee.
If it were not so, I would have told you.
 
folgers_coffee-600x400
 
 
 
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On Editing a Poem, or Anything Really

For every poem you birth a twin follows on its heels.
The first usually has all its fingers and toes
and scores quite high on the Apgar.
But the second?
Its a surprise, often arriving ill-formed,
at times possibly even grotesque.
These follow-ups are quickly whisked away by your mind’s
meddling midwife and sealed behind lock and key
in the ever shameful tower of dude-that’s-not-really-a-poem.
     But if you have love, which is the universal prerequisite
for a poet, then at some point you must scale that
dark edifice and liberate your forgotten progeny.
Why?
They hold secrets about you that their darling siblings
don’t particularly care for, not to mention the establishment.
And the point is they’re family, sprung from your literate loins
and without them your work will always carry hints
of half-assery instead of whole-heartedness, the latter being
just another poetic way of saying love.
 
 
 
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Love Poem No.15

In the time it takes for
a rising yellow moon to
turn white, he recalled
the first time he held her
hand, how he burned
from stem to stern
and hoped to God she
would be the one.
The white moon high in
the sky now, he turns to
watch her sleep feeling the
same heat he felt back
then but it burns wilder
now. He trembles, for
she has been his only
anchor to this earth.
Turning to check the clock
he realizes he isn’t
interested in what time
it is. It is night and they
are there, she dreaming
beneath the sheets and
the moon, he holding
on and on and on.
 
 
 
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